Italy Reports First vCJD Case

ROME-Health officials in Italy are trying to prevent the country from panicking after their first reported case of human Mad Cow disease-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

While details about the patient were not released, it has been reported she is a student and will be taken to London for treatment.

The first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) appeared in Italy in 2001, with 53 reported cases to date. The degenerative neurological disease has been reported primarily in Britain, however there have been scattered cases worldwide.

Cattle in Europe are being watched carefully for any signs of BSE; the disease attacks a cow's brain, leaving small sponge-like holes in the dura mater. It is always fatal and is thought to be caused from tainted meal, fed to the cattle.

If cattle that have died of BSE are then slaughtered and sold, researchers believe humans who eat beef tainted with this prion-based disease develop variant vCJD . This human variant similarly causes sponge-like holes in the human brain and has killed more than 100 people in Europe during the past 5 years.

Although new precautions have been taken in Italy to prevent contaminated beef from reaching markets, economists are still worried about the financial impact of the announcement.

Information from www.reuters.com

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